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Institute of Mental Health Research launches at University of York

Posted on 10 October 2022

The University of York has launched a new Institute of Mental Health Research aimed at reducing the number of people affected by mental ill-health and its impact on individuals, families and health services.

Professor Lina Gega is Director of the new Institute of Mental Health Research

Mental health problems, particularly in young people, is a global health crisis, impacting more than 900 million people. In the UK, it is estimated that one in four people will experience a mental health problem of some kind each year. 

The new Institute, which will be officially launched at a University event on World Mental Health Day, will bring together researchers from a variety of disciplines and from across the world  to focus on designing more effective, efficient and equitable mental health treatments particularly in childhood to prevent further problems in later life. 

Whole communities

The Institute will also provide opportunities for researchers to connect with University student support teams, as well as representatives from student groups, health services, and charities to focus on enhancing mental health support for patients, NHS workers, students, and whole communities. 

The newly appointed Director of the Institute of Mental Health Research, Professor Lina Gega, said: “Mental health problems have a profound impact on the lives of individuals, which has a ripple-effect, impacting families, friends, workplaces, places of education, and those that care for patients within the NHS. 

“We cannot find the solutions to these challenges alone. It takes a whole community working together, and that includes those that have had experience of mental ill-health, NHS workers, charities, schools, researchers, and university student communities, to come together to share knowledge, create new interventions that are flexible to meet a variety of needs.

“At the new Institute, we want to provide these connections between people and organisations, and offer solutions that do not create extra strain on the health services, but at the same time can act quickly to improve the lives of so many impacted by this debilitating condition.” 

Mentally Fit York

Over the coming months Professor Lina Gega will be inviting researchers from across the University to become members of the Institute, and will be approaching NHS mental health units and charities to collaborate on future projects.  

The Institute will also be working closely with Mentally Fit York -  the University’s fundraising campaign aimed at progressing developments in mental health interventions on a local, national, and international scale, through supporting on-the-ground-initiatives and the latest research. 

In her career at the University, Professor Gega has secured funding for projects for depression, generalised anxiety, social anxiety, specific phobias, obsessive compulsive disorder and severe mental illness. Her expertise in the use of digital media as a specialist intervention in mental health, has led her to focus on improving practice and outcomes for children and young people affected by mental ill-health.

Children and adults

Vice-Chancellor of the University of York, Professor Charlie Jeffery, said: “The global pandemic shone a spotlight on the mental health and wellbeing of both children and adults, and it is important that we build on this so that awareness of these conditions can be turned into positive action.  

“The University has been researching mental health conditions for many years, and across all disciplines - arts and humanities, social sciences, and sciences, as well as health-related disciplines. But recent events in the world have taught us how much more powerful this research can be if we bring this knowledge together, and share it more widely to drive forward positive change in the understanding and inventions for a wide-range of mental health conditions.

“We have already made great strides forward, particularly in our understanding of how this condition emerges in the early years of life, but this new Institute will encourage collaboration between researchers, mental health practitioners, schools, universities, charities, patients and their families to improve the lives of so many across the globe.”

The Institute was launched at the National STEM Learning Centre at the University of York, on Monday, 10 October, to coincide with World Mental Health Day 2022.

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